WASHINGTON: The American Red Cross is sending journalists back to
Blood 101, a new PR initiative, is designed to educate reporters about
what the Red Cross does in an effort to increase blood donations.
"We've fallen into a rut with our PR," said Bill Blaul, SVP of
communications and marketing for the Red Cross. "Whenever the Red Cross
is in the news, it's another 'the Red Cross is having a blood shortage'
story. We wanted to give the media a fresh perspective and teach them
about why we have trouble collecting blood and why our prices have gone
Blaul was referring to soaring prices since the FDA's recent ban of
blood donors who had spent more than six months in Europe between 1980
Blood 101 is a half-day class in which PR communicators walk journalists
through the blood-giving process, from testing to showing how blood is
packaged and shipped. The first class was held in Philadelphia.
Reporters from USA Today and CNN attended and later filed favorable
stories about the problems the Red Cross is facing. The class will roll
out to 36 other regions in due course.
The regional headquarters will work with the Red Cross in Washington, DC
to come up with a list of the top-ten healthcare reporters in their
respective areas, and then invite them to attend Blood 101 seminars.
"The Red Cross used to spend most of its time direct mailing," said
Blaul, "but we have been learning how to handle the media and certain
problems, such as the increase in the cost of blood, and dealing with
the mad-cow scare."